Julio Alak

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Julio Alak
Julio Alak.jpg
Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Argentina
Incumbent
Assumed office
July 8, 2009
President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner
Preceded by Aníbal Fernández
Mayor of La Plata
In office
December 10, 1991 – December 10, 2007
Preceded by Pablo Pinto
Succeeded by Pablo Bruera
Personal details
Born (1958-01-09) January 9, 1958 (age 56)
Benito Juárez, Buenos Aires
Nationality Argentine
Political party Justicialist Party
Spouse(s) Marita Scarpino
Alma mater National University of La Plata

Julio César Alak (born January 9, 1958) is an Argentine politician, the former mayor of the Buenos Aires Province capital of La Plata, and currently the Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Argentina.

Life and political career[edit]

Alak was born to a family of Spanish, Italian and Armenian descent in Benito Juárez, a pampas town in Buenos Aires Province. He worked as a journalist while studying law at the University of La Plata, and joined Chacho Álvarez and other center-left Peronists supporting Antonio Cafiero in the APU. Alak taught Public Law at the university and established a private practice. He married Marita Scarpino and had three children. Alak joined the Justicialist Party in 1984.[1]

Alak became the President of the La Plata branch of the party in 1988, and was nominated its mayoral candidate in 1991. He won the election, narrowly defeating the incumbent UCR mayor, and held the post until the 2007 election.

Tenure as mayor and stadium controversy[edit]

In the 1990s, Alak pushed through the construction of a new stadium for La Plata, over the objections of the two major football clubs, which chose to remain in their home fields.

Concurrently, Alak sponsored a minor club, La Plata FC, which some claimed was part of an Alak patronage scheme. Significant sums were allegedly spent from the city budget for activities related to that club, which has virtually no following. For some time, it was thought that it would be the only side to play in the new stadium, which was used mainly for concerts.

When a security regulation forbidding wooden stands came into effect in 2005, Estudiantes de La Plata relocated their home games to the Bosque (the field of rival side Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata), and later to the Quilmes stadium. The municipality has refused to allow Estudiantes an upgrade of their field, and ignored a court order that allowed its operation until a better solution was found. This behavior triggered animosity in the Estudiantes fan base.

In 2006, Gimnasia's stadium was banned as well, and their management transferred their games to the new stadium, over fans' objections. In April 2006, Alak intervened against a judicial order that would have allowed the re-opening of both fields.[2] In August 2006, an agreement has been reached to allow remodeling Estudiantes' field, using newer technologies, to allow for a 20,000 sitting room capacity.

Critics argue that while millions went into the construction of the stadium, which the city did not need, thousands of poor people live in its shadows without receiving proper municipal services.[3]

When Estudiantes obtained the 2006 Apertura title, Alak invited the team to an official ceremony but the players declined to attend, claiming that the pressure from the crowd would not allow them to reach his office; actually, the players were at the Cathedral, 200 m (650 ft) from City Hall, and so the refusal to attend was perceived as a rebuke of Alak.[4]

Prior to the 2007 provincial election, Alak signed Estudiantes legend Juan Ramón Verón to a post as children sports services coordinator. Estudiantes fans puzzled over the designation, which is perceived as cementing Alak's alignment with candidate Daniel Scioli and an attempt to heal the rift between Estudiantes and Alak's administration.[5][6]

La Plata FC was dissolved only three months after Alak left office.[7]

National government career[edit]

Initial results of the October 28, 2007, election indicated that Alak finished behind opposition candidate Pablo Bruera who took 25% to Alak's 20%.[8] Sensing defeat, Alak's campaign operators attempted to suggest a link between Bruera and the killing of three policemen in La Plata, which took place nine days before the election; all investigations were inconclusive as of voting day, however (three suspects were detained and subsequently released).[8]

Alak was named to the Board of Directors of Aerolíneas Argentinas, on February 14, 2008, as the Argentine Government's representative on the air carrier's board,[9] and served as its CEO following the air carrier's July 2008 nationalization.[10]

Following the ruling Front for Victory's defeat in the 2009 mid-term elections, Alak was tapped to replace Attorney General Aníbal Fernández, who had been appointed the President's Cabinet Chief, effective July 8.[11]

Justice Minister Alak spearheaded more vigorous laws against terrorism, money laundering, and market manipulation during his tenure,[12][13] as well as stepped up prosecutions of Dirty War perpetrators.[14]

References[edit]